Transforming Leadership: Matching Diagnostics to Leader Behaviors

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

Critics of transformational leadership theory have criticized Bass' (1985) construct as to its practical implementation for everyday, frontline managers. This article proposes a new, practical model for matching situational diagnostics with appropriate leader behaviors. The authors expand on Hersey and Blanchard's situational model and relate it to the leadership work of Bass, and others, providing guidance for leaders holding no position power (e.g., leading a cross functional team) as well as those with such power. The model describes what behaviors a leader might effectively employ, after careful diagnosis, and how those behaviors might be employed in four key leadership situations.


In the last three decades, the work of Hersey and Blanchard (1969 through 1996), Burns (1978), and Bass, with his colleagues (1985 through 1997), have evoked much scholarly activity aimed at elucidating the work and empirically testing its efficacy (Avolio, Waldman, & Einstein, 1988; Avolio, Waldman, & Yammarino, 1991; Bass, 1985, 1996, 1997; Bass & Avolio, 1989, 1990, 1994); Bass, Waldman, Avolio, & Bebb, 1987; Einstein, 1995; Graeff, 1983; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996; Vecchio, 1987; Waldman, Bass, & Einstein, 1987; Yammarino, Spangler, & Bass, 1993).

To date, however, there have been few attempts to explicitly combine the leadership model of Hersey and Blanchard with the transactional/transformational leadership ideas of Burns and Bass, et. al. in such a way as to provide behavioral guidance for leader/managers in practical situations. Certainly in the 21st Century workplace, with the emphasis on cross-functional teams and participative environments, adaptation of these important works to such contexts is warranted. Although criticized by some in academia (Blank, Weitzel, & Green, 1986; Graeff, 1985), Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership Model (SLM) has been widely adopted by practitioners (Butler & Reese, 1991). SLM has been a major component of leader training in such Fortune 500 companies as IBM, Mobile Oil, and Xerox and is accepted in all branches of the military (Robbins, 1989). University Associates (1986) suggests that SLM ... "has become the most widely accepted managerial philosophy in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and the Far East."

Moreover, there is evidence that transformational leadership can lead to substantial organizational rewards (Bass, 1990; Deluga, 1988; Tichy & Ulrich, 1984; Yammarino & Bass, 1990; Yammarino, Spangler, & Bass, 1995). Transformational leader behaviors have been positively correlated to leader effectiveness ratings, follower satisfaction and effort, and overall organizational performance (Avolio, Waldman, & Einstein, 1988; Bass, Avolio, & Goodheim, 1987; Gaspar, 1992; Hater & Bass, 1988; Howell & Avolio, 1995; Kessler, 1993; Nischan, 1997; Patterson, Fuller, Kester, & Stringer, 1995; Seltzer & Bass, 1990; Waldman, Bass, & Einstein, 1987; Wofford, Goodwin, & Whittington, 1998). In addition, findings have been reported that suggest that transformational leader behavior is associated with employee commitment, trust in leader, and positive organizational citizenship (Bycio, Hackett, & Allen, 1995; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990).

Therefore, it is the purpose of this article to: (1) present a diagnostic model that integrates Hersey and Blanchard's situational model with the leadership work of Bass, et. al.; and (2) propose a new model which outlines specific leadership behaviors which, flowing from the diagnostic model, might be employed by leader/managers in situations involving formal leaders with position power and informal leaders without such power.

We will propose particular leadership behaviors as they apply to situations where:

* The leader has position power (formal authority) and, after diagnosis, chooses to exert control over followers;

* The leader has position power and, after diagnosis, chooses not to exert control over followers;

* The leader does not have position power (e. …